5 Mistakes Teachers Make When Implementing Robotics In Their Classrooms
The push for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) in schools has really started to take a foothold in classrooms and libraries across the country. However, as a teacher or librarian just getting started down this path, it can be a little intimidating. There are a lot of options out there and it can be easy to just fill up your classroom with gadgets without much purpose. Engineering kits that develop design thinking skills and creativity can help classrooms thrive, especially when implemented in the best way possible to help kids grow. So how do you see through the “steam” without getting burned by a tool that turns out to be not that useful for learning and higher order thinking skills? Here’s a list of a few traps to avoid as a teacher when implementing robotics kits into your classroom:
Versatility is the key to not limiting student potential.
Choosing the right platform is important: it needs to fit your students as they grow and develop their skills and grow alongside them. A platform that only works for one age or skill level is not the right platform to use in the classroom. Choose a scalable and versatile option that will allow students to do basic block programming and move up to actual java and python script when they learn more. Can 6 year olds and 11 year olds be challenged by the lessons? Will building creations and challenges be exciting and fun for all age levels? If yes, that’s the kit that will work for your classroom.
Look for hidden costs within platforms.
Many robotics platforms may present themselves as cost-effective in the initial purchasing stage, however, have hidden costs the longer you use them for more functionality. Maybe the software is free, but limiting. Or perhaps it’s a kit that is interesting to start, but requires costly expansion packs down the road to keep students engaged. A kit that requires some investment at the start may work better in the long run because it’s durable and doesn’t require extra purchases and renewals each year. Reach out to the company you’ll be purchasing from and get an idea of how much engagement will be necessary.
Don’t make it so hard on yourself.
It can be difficult to adapt robotics technology to your classroom standards, so choose a robotics platform that has developed a curriculum that works in tandem with existing classroom standards. Integrating new technology into the classroom while trying to cover all the state or national standards can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Some platforms have already developed curriculum specifically designed to fit the requirements. This allows students to learn old material in a new exciting way while also minimizing the work required to implement the new software and hardware.
Keep it budget-friendly.
Your school district will be more open to the idea of purchasing new materials if it works within the budget and can be scaled throughout grade levels. Find a product that is budget-friendly and can be used across grade levels to keep costs low. Smaller robotics companies may even offer incentives for continued engagement and give discounts for first time users.
Allow for creativity.
It’s important that students aren’t just learning about STEAM but also broadening their creative thinking skills at the same time. Will they be able to make their robot their own and implement their imagination into their projects? Or does the platform have limitations in its use? Choose a robotics platform that allows for creativity in designing and building their creations. After all, you never know when an artistic twist can give way to fun and creative growth!
By avoiding the pitfalls of limiting and expensive technologies and implementing tools that allow for creativity and growth, you will have started down the path of effective STEAM in your classroom or library. Integrating state or national standards can be a challenge, but by choosing STEAM platforms that allow for lots of free thinking and imagination - you’ll be on your way to re-imaging learning in your classroom!